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EBay, Gilt prioritize fashion-first wearable tech to push sales

EBay, Gilt and Airbnb are a few of the retailers showing their support of New York start-up Ringly’s smart ring by collaborating with the product’s mobile application.

As fashion-forward wearables gain momentum, Ringly’s latest announcement regarding additional app collaborations parallels with the release of Philadelphia-based start-up Beacon and Lively and its introduction of its own stylish smart bracelet. Participating apps eBay, Gilt, Airbnb, Hinge, Lyft, Skype, Whatsapp and Words with Friends will offer customized alerts through Ringly’s line of smart rings.

“We see the future of the wearable space the same way as clothing, such as the designs, style and trends will differ from season to season, and in order to succeed, your product has to evolve,” said Christina Mercando, CEO and founder of Ringly, New York.

“In six months, we hope to establish ourselves as the leading connected jewelry product that has successfully integrated powerful technology with style, and we hope Ringly is on the fingers of many women,” she said.

Ringing ears
Former ecommerce executives from Etsy and eBay took a fashion-first approach to wearables with a new smart ring that attempts to meet the needs of smartphone-savvy fashionistas.

Ringly’s pre-ordering campaign exceeded its initial goal of $60,000 within eight hours of its launch, executives plan to carry the product to the next level by allowing it to evolve.

When a consumer is on-the-go and carrying her phone in a purse, it is common to miss an important call, reminder or text. Ringly, created with fashion appeal in mind, connects to a mobile application using Bluetooth technology and sends alerts to wearers when an important message is received on their smartphone (see story).

Executives claim Ringly is the fastest-selling tech wearable, selling more product in 24 hours than other crowd-funded campaigns sold in 30 days and reaching more than $100,000 in sales.

For its initial release, Ringly integrated a collection of apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, LinkedIn, Poshmark, Tinder and Uber.

The collaborative effort between apps will come in handy for users that want to receive notifications from these apps through the smart ring. For example, Gilt notifications will be compliant with Ringly’s app, likely making the smart ring more useable and appealing.

As Twitter and Facebook appear in the Ringly app, below in the photo, the aforementioned apps will now be included and customizable.

Those who preordered with Ringly should expect delivery in November. The emerald option is currently sold out, but black onyx, pink sapphire, and rainbow moonstone are still available.

Buyers who refer a friend will receive a $15 discount. If buyers refer 10 friends, their ring is free.

Beacon & Lively’s tech bracelet
Beacon and Lively released a similar wearable in bracelet form that alerts consumers of texts and calls and notifies the user if they leave behind their smart phone in a bathroom or elsewhere.

Beacon and Lively has promoted the bracelet on YouTube with a video featuring a young woman wearing the bracelet and incorporating it in her busy life. As alerts come in through the bracelet, the girl accepts the notifications but is not disengaged from her other activities.

The bracelet comes in three sizes and consumers can choose from silver, gold or black finish. Customizable features such as light alerts with numerous colors are also available. The light alerts can be turned off while in meetings, movie theatres and other locations.

Users can mute notifications by flicking their wrist or tapping the bracelet,. Alert profiles are also customizable, and users can delegate VIP recipients to differentiate between those who matter most.

The wearable connects to the user’s smartphone using Bluetooth technology and is water resistant. The battery life is expected to last five days on a single charge. The mobile application that works with the wearable will be available on iOS and Android platforms.

Currently, the product is being crowd-funded on Kickstarter and has raised nearly $20,000 toward its initial goal of $120,000. The fundraiser will last until July 22. Those interested can preorder through Kickstarter.

The first 50 consumers to preorder paid $145 for the bracelet and this option is no longer available. The next 150 consumers to preorder will pay $165. After that, the product will sell for $185.

A limited-edition version featuring two-tone brass and black finishes retails for $225 and consumers can personalize the product with an inscription for a total of $300.

“The fashion segment of wearable technology is relatively undefined,” said Dave Becker, founder of Beacon and Lively, Philadephia. “Beacon and Lively’s combination of jewelry and technology aims to focus on the fashion and personalization of the product.

“The bracelet is aimed toward forward thinking men and women who care about style and who rely on their phones yet want to remain discreet in professional and social settings such as meetings and dinners.”

Recent history of wearables
The efforts from Ringly and Beacon and Lively show a fashion-first approach, as opposed to Google Glass, which needed help from the fashion world after its initial release.

At first glance, Google Glass seemed too futuristic for everyday use, but a partnership between Google and DVF might give the product the stylish appeal it needs to be marketable and desirable.

A selection of five frames and eight different shades premiered June 23. DVF is a known supporter of Google Glass as staff members and models wore them during the label’s spring/summer 2013 collection runway show at New York Fashion Week (see story).

Ringly supports the fashion-first approach among wearable tech and hopes to appeal to both fashion and tech enthusiasts.

“A lot of people are talking about wearable tech, and most if it is gadget-oriented and geeky with a unisex approach,” Ms. Mercando said. “Some companies think that turning something pink makes it more appealing to women.

“At Ringly, we want to revolutionize the wearable trend by designing a product women actually want to wear,” she said. “It’s about creating a stylish piece of jewelry that women would purchase even if there wasn’t technology packed inside of it.

“Blending fashion and technology creates a new type of wearable space where women will want to buy multiple wearables to match each outfit. We are not a tech company that is trying to be fashionable.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon, editorial assistant for Mobile Commerce Daily, New York